When I meet French people in the United States, we may discuss French current events, or our respective American locales of choice; but without fail, at some point in the conversation, food is brought up.
"Where do you find Maille/Antésite/Levure Alsa/La Comtesse du Barry, here?"
"Where do you find a decent baguette?"
I have lived in the United States for almost twenty years and have sampled great food all over the country. But I'll always miss French food.
Especially the following ten foods (and drinks).
1. La Baguette Tradition
(Photo: Andreas Kusumahadi/Flickr)
Not just any bread; a French icon. Supermarket bread can't compete. Bâtard, flûte, ficelle can't compete either. La baguette de tradition française is the Queen of the French boulangerie. Eat it alone, or with butter. You must eat le quignon (the tip) on the way home. Buy two, just in case.
2. Slightly salted butter
Slightly salted butter, or Le beurre demi-sel in French, is not sweet and not salted. It's just right. This is the butter that will make you forget all other butters. Spread it on toast in the morning; use it to make crêpes. Substitute for all other standard butters in recipes.
3. Goose fat
Duck (or goose) fat, known as La graisse de canard or la graisse d'oie, might sound unhealthy, but you only ever use a little. Un peu. A smidge. How bad can that be? Besides, if you have ever sampled a serving of crisp, fragrant pommes de terre sarladaises, you know why you will never sauté dishes with anything else.
4. Store-bought dough
Store-bought doughs, or les pâtes prêtes à dérouler, are ready to use. Monoprix makes excellent ones. So do Marie or Herta. You're not a baker? Not to worry. From now on, you will impress your guests with perfect pâte brisée, pâte sablée, or pâte feuilletée. It is that easy.
When I lived in Paris, my girlfriends and I had a favorite dinner: Tarte aux tomates, fromage and herbes de Provence, served with a green salad, and followed by a cheese course, or dessert. Voilà. The most delicious dinner in the world, whipped in a few minutes.
5. Duck rillettes
It's not pâté and it's not foie gras either. Find a baguette tradition (see above) and a good bottle of wine, and you're in business once you've added your duck rillettes (Les Rillettes de Canard).
You have not eaten yogurt until you have had yogurt in France. Fact. The yogurt aisle in any self-respecting French supermarket is a beautiful sight. The photo below will probably make many French expats sigh. I get it.
7. Fromage blanc
It's not crème fraîche, it's not cream cheese. La faisselle and le fromage blanc (whipped faisselle) is fresh cheese, with half the calories and cholesterol of cream cheese.
It makes a tasty dip when mixed with fresh herbs. People cook with it. It was for a long time French women's go-to *healthy* dessert on restaurant menus (and maybe it still is?)
8. Carte Noire coffee
(Photo: Walid Mahfoudh/Flickr)
The top-selling coffee brand in France. A couple of Carte Noire bags often find their way into my suitcase before I leave France. Oh, and the brand has produced some awesome TV commercials over the years.
9. Teisseire mint syrup
(Photo: Guillaume Capron/Flickr)
Because Vittel Menthe (mint syrup and mineral water) or its poor parent Menthe à l'eau (mint syrup and tap water,) is such a pretty, refreshing drink. In my childhood, kids were only allowed to drink soda occasionally. We were very grateful for the reliable Menthe à l'eau: It quenched our thirst on hot summer days.
10. Blackcurrant liquor (Creme de cassis)
(Photo: Reese Lloyd/Flickr)
Creme de Cassis is a classic, and the indispensable ingredient to prepare the iconic French apéritif Kir (dry white wine and blackcurrant liquor.) My personal favorite, le Kir Royal (made with champagne instead of wine), is the elegant, pretty drink that whets your appetite and makes your head spin before you order your meal.
So, what have she missed? Share you thoughts below.
French Girl in Seattle, also known as Véronique Savoye, has called the US home for almost 20 years. This post originally appeared on her blog here. Be sure to check out her blog here and her Facebook page here.